Talkspace is a popular, reputable, and well-trusted provider of text- and phone-based counseling and therapy options, serving people with a wide range of problems and psychological conditions. Online and text-based therapy has been a huge benefit to many people for whom traditional mental health care is off limits for whatever reason. Perhaps someone is disabled, lives in the country, is always away on travel – how do people in these situations obtain access to the mental health care that they need? It is this gap that organizations like Talkspace seek to fill.
Many people have already taken advantage of the ability to have regular counseling and therapy sessions that don’t require you to show up to a physical location. Services like this are flexible and convenient, making barriers to access for this kind of treatment fall away. Services like this are also often more affordable than more traditional mental health treatment options and give access to these vital services to a wider range of people who need them.
Access has often been one of the biggest impediments to people obtaining the mental health care that they need and apps like Talkspace have been the saving grace of over a million different people in the four years it has been in operation. One of the shortfalls of this type of service is the ability to prescribe pharmaceuticals to patients who are suffering from moderate to severe mental health conditions like anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and more.
The basic model of Talkspace and similar service providers was to change the way that patients could access the services they need. What the people who started this service saw was that there were too many barriers to people getting the services and help they needed, as well as a general dearth in providers to meet the great need for said services. One of the problems is that there are a lot of costs and hassles associated with having a brick and mortar practice, which leads to many people to pursue different career paths or try to get in with an already established system of providers. The problem is that these are often expensive, unavailable to people without insurance, and they are often clustered in major cities, leaving huge areas of the population without ready access to these vital services.
Talkspace has been able to help over a million people get the help they need that they might not otherwise have had access to. Roni Frank, co-founder of the online mental health care provider, thinks they need to do even more. She notes that there is the same problem with access and cost related to psychiatric services as there are to traditional talk therapy and other types of services. She is looking to expand the offerings and one of the areas she hopes to be able to expand in to is being able to have providers that can provide pharmaceutical options to patients that need more than just counselling or talk therapy.
The company is broadening their services to offer basic pharmaceutical options, bringing on board licensed psychiatrists to help try to tackle the issue. The psychiatrists will work directly with Talkspace therapists as independent contractors and will devise an effective treatment plan based on this close collaboration. They are hoping to launch a pilot version of this program in the United States in October of 2018. This will help expand access and services even more. It should be noted that the face-to-face consultation is not completely avoided in this situation. Patients do not have to show up at a specific location but they are required to have a video conference call as part of the assessment and treatment process.
This isn’t the only way that they are looking to expand. Talkspace has also been working with workplaces and educational institutions in an effort to team up to provide mental health care services for employees and students. They have started by working with students at fraternities and sororities, as well as assisting employees through employer assistance programs (EAPs). A special program with the fraternity Delta Tau Delta, which will give members free access to mental health care services using a special promotional code. The company has been working with Greek Life organizations on college campuses since 2016 and has seen amazing results.
While at this time, the relationship between Talkspace is only with a variety of Greek Life organizations, co-founder Roni Frank does not see this merely being a relationship between the company and fraternities and sororities. Rather, she eventually envisions the company working hand-in-hand with on-campus mental health care providers to help meet the demand for services and provide students and faculty with access to the affordable mental health care services they need. These expansions of service, coupled with the ability to prescribe common pharmaceuticals for basic mental health conditions, will help provide the services that are lacking and so desperately needed in so many places throughout the country.